Warrior-Scholar Project Receives Transformational $5 Million Gift From MacKenzie Scott

WSP is among a small group of veterans organizations to have captured Ms. Scott’s attention

WASHINGTON, D.C.FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — National nonprofit Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) is ecstatic to announce that it is the recipient of a $5 million unrestricted gift from American author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. The largest single donation in WSP’s history, the gift will allow the nonprofit to transformatively scale its academic boot camps and the number of veterans enrolled in its programs over the coming years.

“We are thrilled that MacKenzie Scott has chosen WSP as a beneficiary in her latest round of grantmaking. This generous gift will be fully invested in the exceptionally talented veterans we serve. We will continue doing what we do best: equipping them to excel in higher education and amplifying their voices as civic leaders,” said Ryan Pavel, CEO of WSP. 

Each year, roughly 200,000 service members separate from the military, and approximately 115,000 of those veterans decide to pursue higher education as a critical next step in acclimating to civilian life and landing a fulfilling career. WSP’s mission is to ensure that every degree-seeking enlisted veteran succeeds in the transition to higher education (in partnership with 24 top-tier colleges and universities). To date, the nonprofit has served nearly 2,000 enlisted veterans in boot camps and hundreds more in community college workshops. Nearly 60% of warrior-scholars are first-generation college students. 

During a WSP academic boot camp, students are introduced to analytical reading, writing, and other academic and everyday skills crucial to academic success. The experience has a lasting impact: 98% of WSP participants leave the program feeling more confident they will succeed in college, and more than 90% are currently pursuing or have already completed their undergraduate degrees — in contrast to 72% of the overall student veteran population. Additionally, a recent study by Syracuse University’s Institute of Veterans and Military Families found that WSP is the only program of its kind dedicated to veterans with a national reach that provides targeted support for humanities, STEM, and business degrees.  

The gift from MacKenzie Scott builds upon WSP’s solid foundation, allowing the organization to accelerate its plans to grow existing boot camps, workshops, educational supports, and alumni services. “Our alumni are changing the face of higher education and their determination continues to enrich the environment of every campus and classroom where they study. This donation will dramatically accelerate that change,” said Pavel.  

About Warrior-Scholar Project

Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) empowers enlisted veterans and service members to excel at four-year universities. Through intensive and immersive one- to two-week academic boot camps, participants gain skills required for success and support for the cultural shift from the military to higher education at top-tier schools. Throughout WSP’s free resident education programs, students are traditionally housed on campus, and engage in challenging discussions with accomplished professors, receiving tailored instruction on key skills like analytical reading and college-level writing. Warrior-Scholar Project is a national nonprofit with programs at public and private colleges and universities across the country. For more information, visit www.warrior-scholar.org.

EASTHAMPTON — City resident Cassie Sanchez has been named the director of education of the Warrior-Scholar Project, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that helps enlisted veterans as they prepare for reintroduction to academic life.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) is excited to welcome Cassie Sanchez to the organization as its new director of education. A University of Massachusetts Amherst alumna, Sanchez brings decades of experience in curriculum development and academic advising to the role that will further enrich WSP’s free education programs. WSP is a national nonprofit that empowers enlisted veterans to excel at higher education via immersive academic boot camps at some of the nation’s top universities.

“We are beyond fortunate that Cassie has joined our team! Her thorough understanding of the support structure students need to succeed in rigorous college classrooms combined with her depth of teaching experience and knowledge of the unique challenges faced by military veterans make her the ideal candidate for this role. She will elevate WSP’s curriculum and programming to the next level,” said Ryan Pavel, CEO of Warrior-Scholar Project. 

Sanchez earned her Ph.D. in Education Policy, Research, and Administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she also went on to serve the university as an assistant editor and research assistant. She then worked for 10 years as a senior writing associate at Amherst College, a partner university of WSP and where she first got involved with the nonprofit in 2017 as a writing instructor for the program. In 2020, Sanchez deepened her involvement with the organization when she joined WSP’s Academic Advisory team. Throughout her career, she has conducted various research projects focused on higher education access and academic support for students from underrepresented groups and nontraditional backgrounds, and she welcomes the opportunity to put her experience, interests, and skills in higher education to use by helping enlisted service members transition from the military to college. 

“One of the things I love about higher ed is being in a room of smart people doing great work — and that’s exactly what Warrior-Scholar Project is,” said Sanchez. “My role at WSP will go beyond teaching to examine our educational objectives and how we get there. I love that kind of big-picture thinking and am looking forward to enhancing the support we offer veterans on both their educational and career journeys.” 

Sanchez’s passion for helping students access higher education comes in part from her personal affiliation as a low-income student. Additionally, she is a military spouse and has an intimate understanding of the challenges veterans face when transitioning from the military to civilian life. 

About Warrior-Scholar Project

Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) empowers enlisted veterans and service members to excel at four-year universities. Through intensive and immersive one- to two-week academic boot camps, participants gain skills required for success and support for the cultural shift from the military to higher education at top-tier schools. Throughout WSP’s free resident education programs, students are traditionally housed on campus, and engage in challenging discussions with accomplished professors, receiving tailored instruction on key skills like analytical reading and college-level writing. Warrior-Scholar Project is a national nonprofit with programs at public and private colleges and universities across the country. For more information, visit warrior-scholar.org.